Gary Burns Fun Run benefits Frisco students
City Council member Tony Felker, Mayor Mike Simpson and Mayor Pro Tem Maher Maso greet the crowds as they walk the course at the Gary Burns Memory Walk Oct. 22.
The sixth Gary Burns Fun Run is estimated to have topped the $100,000 mark in funds raised for scholarships for Frisco ISD students and the Grants for Great Ideas program, said K. Jonas, director of the Frisco Education Foundation.
The Saturday fun run was blessed with wonderful weather and excited runners ready to take advantage of the cool temperatures. The event is named for the late assistant fire chief Gary Burns and is the major fundraiser for the Frisco Education Foundation. Contributions have almost doubled since the first run in 1999. Last year’s run generated just less than $90,000, Jonas said.
Today, the name Gary Burns is known to newer Frisco residents because of a street sign and the fun run, but for many people in Frisco, it seems only yesterday that he was a vital part of the Frisco community. He is remembered for his easygoing smile, his humor and the courage with which he faced cancer. Folks still talk about how his fellow firefighters and friends encouraged him by shaving their heads when he lost his hair to chemotherapy.
Burns was active in schools and sports and strong in his faith. He was the man in the blue Frisco Fire Department work shirt who always had a smile for visitors at the Central Fire Station and a steady hand at the scene of a fire or accident. Others remember him as the guy behind the counter at Snappy Jack convenience store and gas station. He was part of the fabric of Frisco at a time when people still knew most of their neighbors. When the first steps were taken to begin what is now called Frisco Family Services, he was there, calling on everyone to pitch in and reaching out to the community. His death was a blow to many who were touched by his life. He had long supported helping kids from Frisco achieve their best.
This year, with a bounce house, face painters, music and children running back and forth at Hall Office Park, the title sponsor of the event, it was difficult to imagine that this is the sixth fun run and that Burns has been gone for so many years.
Burns’ daughter Ashley has participated in the run. She was also awarded the Gary Burns Scholarship by FEF. She recently graduated from the University of North Texas and is currently employed by FISD.
“Fun Run makes my family’s loss much easier because the Frisco community is so supportive of keeping my dad’s memory alive,” Ashley Burns said. “Seeing that the money raised in his name from the Fun Run each year provides priceless opportunities for the young people of Frisco is very inspiring. It definitely encourages me to want to make a difference in others’ lives, but I know that I have some big shoes to fill.”
Dr. Rick Reedy, FISD superintendent, traditionally challenges faculty and staff to beat his time. This year he was busy keeping up with who beat his time – noting that his old friend and retired teacher, Latrelle Thompson, beat him. Local businessmen Kirby Chandler and Chuck Quarles offered to make cash contributions to FEF for every FISD employee or teacher who beat Reedy’s time.
Male runners are subject to a 10-second-per-year-difference handicap rule. Reedy provides a luncheon from La Hacienda Restaurant for those staff members who beat his running time.
The event sponsors, in addition to Title Sponsor Hall Office Park, were The Dallas Morning News, WFAA-Channel 8 and JACK FM, as well as many local and national sponsors. The certified 5K run attracts runners from throughout the North Texas area. Less serious athletes are welcome to join in on the 1-mile fun walk/run.
The family friendly event featured a bounce house, face painting, prizes and the famous Frisco Fire Clowns.
Several FISD faculty teams were represented Saturday.
“We always want to emphasize the fun in this run,” Jonas said. “It is a great morning for the entire community. Entire families participate from moms and dads pushing strollers to grandparents. Many of our FISD teachers enjoy pitting their skills and speed against one another and FISD students are some of our biggest supporters.”
Proceeds from the run provide funds to Frisco seniors in the form of college scholarships as well as funding for the Grants for Great Ideas Program. This program allows Frisco teachers receiving grants to expand academic enrichment in the classroom. Scholarship winners must apply and be accepted based on need, merit and teacher and community recommendations.